Sorry for wigging anyone out on the last post. I really wanted it to be about our lost son, which is why I didn't get distracted with the L&D visit. But I appreciate the throwaway mention wasn't very helpful. So here is the story.
I've learnt through pregnancy that any number of pullings and often sharp pains in various places in my abdomen, groin and hips are perfectly normal (for me). Some of them can be really painful, but they are over in seconds. Last week I started to get some shooting pains which appeared to be inside my vagina. This was a bit more worrying, but several of you have mentioned that you had something similar, and that they have the same cause as the abdominal pains - ligaments stretching. On Thursday I did a day trip to Rome, and was without water for a few hours in the afternoon, in a meeting in pretty hot room. On the way back to the airport I realised I was feeling much crampier than usual, and started to drink. I got through a litre before I got on the plane, but the cramps didn't really seem to go away. They also felt more like cramps and less like shooting pains. Not hard, full-on contractions, but lots of cramps, like mild period pain.
They continued on Friday, and by the evening I was worried. I felt around in the abdomen and realised I could feel lots of what felt like fast muscle contractions going on low down, where I imagine the uterus is relatively accessible. I remembered Mainland Girl's advice to always ask the doctor rather than trying to be a big strong girl, so I called the 'emergency' number we've been given, which is the labour and delivery ward. I spoke to an extremely harassed-sounding young woman, who after about 1 minute of me talking, told me to come in since she couldn't check anything over the phone.
So we went in. It was around 2245 by the time we got there, and a few people were milling around in the reception area, but no one was there to talk to. After a while a nurse in scrubs came in, dealt with the people ahead of us, then talked to me briefly. After a few minutes she came back to let us into the ward (they are very hot on security in L&D wards here). She couldn't have been nicer, despite the fact they were clearly snowed. She showed us into a private room, and told me she'd be back shortly. Within 5 minutes she'd checked the baby's heartbeat (fine), my blood pressure (fine) and temperature (fine). She told us that a doctor would be in as soon as possible, and then left us to wait. We waited not more than 30 minutes before a doctor in scrubs, who looked about 15, showed up. She was also very sweet, and very apologetically told me she wanted to do an internal scan to look at my cervix. I told her they held no fears for me, and she laughed. She checked my abdomen, which was soft (good) and then did the internal exam, which was no more uncomfortable than usual. She was busy telling me to relax as she put gel on that metal instrument of torture, the speculum, and H and I both had to laugh, it was such an incongrous remark given the images conjured up by the equipment! If they want us to relax they need to make them in nice warm plastic and in nice, friendly colours, or at least amusing ones (polka dots perhaps), IMO.
She reported that my cervix was long and closed, and that she'd done a swab for any infections, and left us, promising to return with a bottle for a urine sample. I was in the bathroom doing that when our OB showed up. He confessed to being disappointed that they'd been so efficient that they'd done everything before he arrived! He had another go at my abdomen, reported again that it was nice and soft, and then spent a good 10 minutes going into the details of exactly what I was feeling, and getting me to rate frequency, pain levels etc. He finished with a detailed description of what kinds of pains I needed to be worried about, and what were fine. This included the highlight "if you feel something like a knife, stabbing through your vagina, that's perfectly normal and nothing to worry about, it is your pubic symphysis opening up." The ones to worry about are when your uterus closes up like a fist, and stays that way for more than 30 seconds or so. Sharp stabbing pains have to be lived with. I can do that.
At no point did anyone make us feel bad for coming in. I did feel a bit silly, but the OB told me they weren't going to take any risks when a 20 week patient called saying she felt crampy, and that it was totally correct that we came in. Then he told us to go home and chill out. I can't tell you how much better I felt throughout the rest of the weekend, knowing that what I was feeling was normal and that everything still looks fine.
And then on Saturday (during a waxing session with my usual lady which didn't hurt any more than normal, so yah boo and sucks to that awful woman who did it last time), I started to feel the baby move. It feels like bubbles, or tiny pushes on my insides. I'm not feeling them regularly, but the baby had a good sesssion last night while I lay on the sofa watching West Wing. It is totally amazing, and bewildering, and joyous, that we've got here.